Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Unusual Sleeping Beauty Art

We're looking at how different people have interpreted the tale of Sleeping Beauty this week and I thought I'd share some unusual art I found during my research.

This first piece is a gigantic work, painted on a wall by graffiti artist El Mac (you can find out more about him and his work HERE). His sleeping beauty, actually titled 'Phoenix Goddess', implying she'll wake sometime, gives a distinct sense that Beauty has slept so long and so soundly that the world has changed around her. In the background he has painted a cityscape, something we don't normally see in a picture with Beauty asleep. (You can see the patio table in the foreground for perspective on just how big this work is.)

The second is a piece, by Sasha Foster, that I was surprised - and glad - to find (you can find her blog, her comments about this piece and more of her work HERE). If you know your Sleeping Beauty, you probably also know that the popular version is only half of the first written record of the tale, called 'Sun, Moon and Talia' and that Talia (left anonymous by Perrault, though he was the first to use the story title 'Sleeping Beauty'*) wasn't woken by a kiss at all. When the Prince found her, hidden in the wood for safety, he found he so beautiful that he, after being unable to wake her up, raped her - while she was asleep! I know: wrong, wrong, wrong! Anyway, she eventually had twins (the mind boggles at the logistics required), and was woken by one of the babies looking to nurse but, finding her finger instead, sucked on it, removing the splinter of flax that had caused her sleep in the first place.

And I haven't even mentioned the Ogress yet, even though she came after the jealous wife of the Prince... Phew! I think I'll leave that for another time.

In the meantime if you're aware of unusual Sleeping Beauty illustrations or artwork that show an 'often-unconsidered' side of the tale, please feel free to leave a comment and point us all in that direction. From each retelling and each artistic interpretation there's a little more to learn.

*It was the Brother's Grimm who named the sleeping princess Briar Rose or, in a variant Rosamund, and, though their retelling of the tale is probably taken from Perrault's it's thought they would deny their version had anything to do with his. Their's was also the first version to cut the tale in half, ending with the Prince arriving and waking the princess with a chaste kiss. This was also the first time the magical kiss apeared. In the Perrault retelling, the twin children are named Morning (or Dawn, which in French is L'Aurore) and Day. The name of the girl child L'Aurore is likely where Disney got the name for the Sleeping Beauty most well known today. You can read all about these variants and how the story was shortened HERE and HERE.
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